The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI

Betty Medsger, Author
Betty Medsger. Knopf, $29.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-307-96295-9
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 01/07/2014
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Open Ebook - 592 pages - 978-0-307-96296-6
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When a huge trove of classified documents was stolen from the Media, Pa., branch office of the FBI in 1971, Medsger (Women at Work) was one of the first journalists to cover the story. Four decades later she has tracked down the perpetrators, whose identities had never before been revealed, and written the definitive account of what she calls “perhaps the most powerful single act of nonviolent resistance in American history.” The burglary revealed to the public how the Bureau served as “secret judge, secret jury, and secret warden” in its efforts to “intimidate people from exercising their right to dissent.” The richly detailed narrative flows seamlessly from the planning and commission of the break-in to the FBI’s bungled investigation to the explosive aftermath of the files’ release. In its zeal to bring the perpetrators to justice, the FBI provided much support for the Camden 28, mistakenly believed to have committed the Media burglary as well, to rob a draft board—an attempted sting that became instead a watershed moment for the antiwar movement when the defendants were acquitted by jury nullification. Medsger concludes by following up with each of the plotters, most of whom have since enjoyed quiet lives since, unlike those who have appropriated classified files more recently. (Jan.)
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